What makes Kallipolis, with its philosopher-king, a utopian society?
By reading the description of the city of Kallipolis that Plato presents through his characters, the reader understands that his goal is to construct an imagined society that, according to his views, is ideal. Just by analyzing that this is PlatoThe fact that the description of the city and its rulers is experienced while reading Plato’s writing only, and not evidenced in reality, makes it be intangible to the reader. This inability to associate such philosophical descriptions to existing institutions makes the reader affirm that what Plato presents is a utopian society. Besides this logical explanation however, the fact that Plato criticizes the rulers of and his various affirmations that what he describes is a “model,” both make the reader reaffirm that Kallipolis is utopian.
In Book 5, through dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, Plato presents the idea that the current rulers of the masses “…look at many beautiful things but do not see the beautiful itself…they have beliefs about all these things, but have no knowledge about what their beliefs are about (Plato 174).” The reader can sense a degree of criticism towards the status-quo, as by reading this, it is understood that Plato talks about modern rulers of that time, and how they lead by standards they Hence, the reader can infer that such criticism is used as a tool to devaluate the real rulers and introduce a better alternative —an image of what an ideal ruler would be like, which is alien to the “current” one, thus utopian as well. Plato describes how it is “those who in each case are passionately devoted to the thing itself (Plato 175)” that are are “true philosophers,” and that “…until they rule as kings…cities will not have rest from evil…(Plato 164).”Again, Plato indirectly criticizes the This makes the reader envision an almost fantastical image of what the ideal ruler is.
Plato also highlights how “difficult” it is for these “true philosophers” to rule. Not only do they have to be This, coupled with Socrates’ subsequent statement that these philosophers must also ignore what “sophists” teach them: “the convictions the masses hold when assembled together, what they (society) call wisdom (Plato 186),” makes the reader visualize the impossibility of the existence of such individuals. The reader fails to connect the image of an individual who displays such complex array of positive qualities, who has the fortune of being perfectly raised, and who can ignore the masses, to a real human being. The reader then certainly agrees when Socrates claims his actions to be .
By taking note of one of Socrates’ earlier statements, where he explained to be working to “have a model that we were inquiring into the nature of justice itself and of the completely just man…(Plato 165),” the reader can assume that the same is done with the description of the city itself and its ideal rulers. Because the characteristics of the “true philosophers” are uncommon, almost impossible even, and the vision of the city is described through pure philosophy, Kallipolis becomes a “model” for the ideal society —the utopia, that is to replace the “current one.”
I have neither received nor given unauthorized assistance during the completion of this work.
Reeve, C. D. C. Plato Republic. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc, 2004. Print.